The Rural Context of Community Development in Canada


  • Bill Reimer Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University


This paper examines contextual conditions that limit or enhance community capacity processes. Four contextual conditions are considered in the analysis: integration to the global economy, stability of the local economy, metro-adjacency, and institutional capacity. Data from rural Canada are used to explore how these contextual characteristics condition the relationship between the use of social capital and four community outcomes: labour force participation, household incomes, employment, and life expectancy. Results from the New Rural Economy Project in Canada suggest that these contextual characteristics place important conditions on the capacity processes considered. In some case, they accentuate the strength of the relationship between social capital and the outcomes, in others they reduce it, and in a few, they reverse the direction of the relationship between the two. The paper concludes with some comments on the implications of the findings for policy development and community development practice.